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Post  p14shooter on Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:06 pm

So, I have read the highlights of the forum. Done my search on the internet. Borrowed books from the library. Started my worm bin but I think my worms are gonna starve.
There is only 2 of us in the house, and we really do not produce a lot of scraps that I can use for feed. I figure that I would like to grow the colony to 2000 but that is 7-14 pounds of food a week depending on who you listen to. We can just not support that amount of food scraps. I have read what I could about feeding and I still have not found the answer to my question. The question is, can I add plants to the bin such as pulled beans, peas, squash etc and feed them fall leaves. Doing that, plus my scraps I should be fine. Can I do this? Can I feed them mostly carbon? If not, I may have to resort to stealing pumpkins off my neighbour's step and scouring the woods for crab apples.

any help is of course appreciated.
Paul

I should mention that I am in zone 5a so it is an indoor set up and that currently I only have about 4oz of worms so for now, things are good.
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Post  OhioGardener on Mon Aug 10, 2020 6:51 pm

It is pretty easy to keep the worms fed, P14S.  I would not use plants, though. Remember, the microbes in the worm bin break down the food source, and then the worms consume it.  Red Wigglers consume half their body weight each day, so if you have 2# of worms, they would consume 1# of food scraps per day.  If you don't have that much food scraps, shred some cardboard and soak it so it is completely damp (not wet, just damp), and put that in the worm bin. The worms love cardboard, especially the glue used to make it.

A couple articles you might want to check out on this subject:

https://thesquirmfirm.com/feeding-your-red-wiggler-composting-worms/

https://thesquirmfirm.com/what-can-red-wiggler-worms-eat-infographic/

https://thesquirmfirm.com/what-do-red-wiggler-worms-eat/

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Post  p14shooter on Mon Aug 10, 2020 8:45 pm

I am usually not this dense. It must be my previous assumptions that are not allowing me to understand what I am reading. So please educate me. I am taking you for your word of experience that I can not feed plants, but can feed leaves and cardboard to my heart's content. I work in a grocery store so cardboard is not an issue. But if you can help slap some sense into me as to why plants are a no go, while grass clippings are a go (in moderation as I know they clump up) based on my lack of understanding of:

In a compost pile, leaves are considered a brown and plants a green as well as kitchen scraps a green. So if kitchen scraps are a green and can be fed to my little buddies, Why not green plants? Both a banana or apple is alive just like a freshly pulled bean plant. I guess technically as soon as they are picked/pulled they are dying.

I realize that you have already said no to the above, I just dont understand what the green difference is. What if those bean plants were thrown onto the leaf pile to dry/decompose a bit with the leaves before adding to the worms. I presume then that they are now not a full green but not quite a brown so add a bit of moisture and they should be good now?

And just to solidify my lack of knowledge. As leaves can be used for bedding, and they can be used for food (I know that any bedding is consumed anyway) then in theory I could just have a worm bin of leaves and the end result will be just as good as those of you who do a proper job of 40%green and 60% brown?

This is one of those circumstances for me that reading is not educating me and I am relying on experience telling me.

I never woulda thunk that the lowly worm could cause such headache

Paul
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Post  OhioGardener on Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:19 pm

Paul, I can only speak from experience, and not education - us electrical engineers don't get much training on raising worms.  Mad   The worms eat decomposing food sources, which is being processed for them by microbes. This symbiotic relationship between the microbes and worms is very important, and we don't want to do anything to disturb/destroy it. Grass clippings and green plants do not easily or quickly decompose. And because they have a very low C:N ratio, their anaerobic decomposition process off-gases ammonia which is not good in a worm bin. On the other hand, if you put the plants & grass clippings in a compost tumbler and start composting them with the proper C:N ratio, you will easily generate some good worm food once the off-gassing of ammonia has stopped. Or, of course, you can spread the grass clippings or leaves (not plant stems) out thinly to completely dry, and then use them in the worm bin for bedding since they will be nearly pure carbon by then.  BTW, don't forget to occasionally add some grit, such as crushed egg shells or rock dust, for the worms to use in their gizzard for digesting their food.

Of course, that is just my experience, and your mileage may vary....

Unrelated side note: One thing I periodically do is ask the produce manager at the local grocery store if he has any spoiling cantaloupe, mangoes, avocados, etc., that I might have to feed the worms. Almost always get a box full.

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Post  has55 on Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:19 am

you can safely feed them Purina worm food till your confidence is established through your study. This is one site but you can find it in various sizes o the internet. Just follow the direction. 

purina worm chow


2nd Red Worm Composting sites is a wealth of free info.

Getting Started
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Post  p14shooter on Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:36 pm

thanks all. So they wont starve. And I will get some gold. I guess its a win win
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Post  p14shooter on Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:45 pm

and actually I just found what I was looking for as I was curious as to the composition of casting based on what they were fed. Not an extensive read as the study is not present but clears my mind on the matter. variety is key for the sfger
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Post  AtlantaTerry on Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:59 am

@p14shooter wrote:
I work in a grocery store so cardboard is not an issue.

Paul
 
Paul,

You just answered your own question. Since you work in a grocery store, just ask the produce manager to allow you to remove any veggies they are about to throw out. My local Kroger stores allow me to do it because it is a win-win situation for them.

Terry
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Post  p14shooter on Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:15 pm

Unfortunately Terry we have a policy against that.
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Post  OhioGardener on Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:17 pm

@p14shooter wrote:Unfortunately Terry we have a policy against that.

Do you mean that is a store policy, or is it some kind of regulation/law?

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Post  p14shooter on Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:25 pm

Company policy. Unfortunately
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Post  OhioGardener on Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:38 pm

@p14shooter wrote:Company policy. Unfortunately

That is an unfortunate waste of natural resources. Shame you can't take advantage of that waste that is headed for a landfill somewhere.

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Post  Kelejan on Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:29 pm

I used tp get lots of past dated vegetable and fruit produce from our local supermarket
until our local health people stopped it. I think it was partly dues to people actually going through the "best by date" and eating some of it which was quite understandable
as so much was really edible.

We also  used to get used coffee grounds from Starbucks and that got trashed as well. Sad That was store policy.

I should imagine that any food waste may have gone to the city compost depot to be mixed in with all the other garden waste that is collected and we citizens are allocated two bags per household.  We usually line up in our vehicles and collected it twice a year, but this year we are having it delivered and we get it by placing a piece of cloth, canvas, what have you, outside the road where we can, and wait for it.

The trouble whre I live is the we are last in the city to get anything done, so when the compost is delivered and all the squares removed, there are going to be little patches of almost dead grass that has to be brought to life again.

The city compost I would place where my flowers are, but not in the veggie beds.
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Post  sanderson on Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:34 am

AtlantaTerry! Hi there. happy hi Welcome back.

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Post  p14shooter on Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:27 am

so, so far things are progressing nicely. I think. Worms have not starved, but I still do not have a lot of them. As I am now always looking for potential food, just like I look for metal to recycle, I thought why not the fruit from my neighbours quince bush. So I  smashed some up a few weeks ago and added it to the bucket and they appear to be gone. So i picked the works of it off the bush the other day and will start the feeding process. I think I am going to do my first harvest next week. Lets see how that goes. It is fall of course so I should be able to get my hands on all the rotted pumpkins I could ask for. As long as the kids don't smash them in the street first.

Paul
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Post  Yardslave on Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:06 pm

I have been into vermicomposting for over 10 years now with a few setbacks, mostly from varmints breaking into the bin and feasting on the worms. I've learned that citrus cannot be directly added to the bins as the oils are toxic and can wipe the colony out. I also found that pineapple bits are too acidic and repel the worms until it's decomposed and less acidic. Don't worry about stems and pits, and eggshells aren't eaten, but as they breakdown, the calcium helps with the bin's Ph. Large pieces (like asparagus, basil stems, bananas, artichoke stalks...) do break down eventually provided that the bin is kept moist. Keeping an even layer of moist offerings is the key to keeping the worms happy. I don't use cardboard , but I have an old office paper shredder that makes a fluffy topping out of newspaper that goes on top of the the kitchen scraps. The worms will use this topping for dessert and leave behind a pile worm poop that is perfect for worm teas. I use a sprayer to mist the topping so it's wet, but not soaked to the point of leaving puddles behind. I occasionally lightly dust the bin with sand that the worms use in their digestive tracts to break things down- justy like birds do. Vermicomposting is a super-slow process, but you will know you are doing it right when you see tiny yellow "BB's" in the compost- those are the worm eggs.
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Post  Kelejan on Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:15 pm

Each of those little yellow BB's contain several baby worms.  I have written berore that once I took part in a worm experiment.

It consisted of two worms in a carton, the ones that contain yoghurt, taking not of the date and then preparing the carton with worm bedding and food.  Not too much food as two worms do not eat very much. the two worms must be at the stage where they have that thickened band round their middles that means that there are about to produce eggs.

At the end of each month you go through there home and see how many tiny worms you can find, then count them.  At the end of the third month with my experiment, I had 75 worms of various sizes and the original parents wee still alive.

So be patient, place you food in the worm bed and add the appropriate greens and browns for the bedding.
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Post  plantoid on Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:45 pm

Where I used to live my pal ran a small worm farm in his spare time using his office shredder for his shredded paper & pulping it in a cement mixer ) He used all  non glossy paper from his office  , news papers & old books from a second hand book shop who gave him the no good for selling damaged books . 
 
 He had nigh on a thousand 16 x16 x 14 inches high stacking inside each other boxes of them .  Stacked in tens in some four  feet tall rows @ 3 feet apart  in his massive former stock shed .  Every now & then he'd also add a few pints of liquidized veg garden plants in the pulp water , . you'd be surprised how little " food " worms can get by on. 
 He must have been doing something right for he was getting £ 62 ( $ 85 USD ? ) per kilogram for them .
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Post  Kelejan on Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:35 pm

Is your friend still in business, Plantoid?
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Post  p14shooter on Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:41 am

I am both please and disappointment at the same time. I dumped my bucket yesterday. To my pleasure, most of the food was gone. Only a little bit of corn cobs left and some of the quince fruit. To my disappointment,  the colony did not seem to grow very much. I had expected millions of worms to only find maybe 4oz of them. It may be a bit more but the separation process was not as fun as I was expecting. I was first trying to separate individual worms but that process got old quick. The separation was not as good as I had hoped as the bottom was to wet I think and some of the initial bedding was all clumped together so not broken down into the compost it should have been. Live and learn. New process in place for new bucket based on other videos watched. I will find something that works. The other good news is that there were lots of babies so I must be doing something right. I did not really find eggs sacks but with so few worms I did not really expect to. That and I am still not sure what I am looking for.

So the good news is, my worms are not gonna starve. Not with how few I have and what food I have been scavenging for. Better luck with this bucket
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Post  OhioGardener on Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:49 pm

It is a continuous learning process, Mark.  Remember that redworms feed in only the top few inches of the bed, they don't burrow down into deep beds like earthworms do. They need the bedding to be moist in order to be able to move around, but they won't stay in bedding that is too wet since it blocks the availability of oxygen for them. That is why drainage is important. That is one thing I like about using and old cast iron bathtub for a worm bin - it provides a large surface area for the worms to move around in, and as food is added the bottom becomes more concentrated worm castings that can harvested later. Just have to ensure the drain hole is covered with screen wire.

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